Enjoying Contrasts

I have a child who enjoys classical music & rap. For me, these contrasts don’t match up too well, but to each his own.

I also made an interesting blueberry pie a few days ago where the recipe called for goat cheese & chopped almonds / more contrasts. The pie was like a party in my mouth because of the complementing contrasts: tangy goat cheese & sweet blueberries as well as crunchy almonds & soft blueberries. These contrasts were super pleasant although not something I’d usually consider.

That’s the interesting thing with contrasts: we don’t normally put contrasts together because they often seem to compete rather than blend & complement. But alas, this is how much of following Jesus seems to play out.
For example:

  • Jesus applauded Peter for acknowledging Him as the Son of God but He rebuked Peter for shooting off his mouth;
  • Jesus demonstrates genuine love in the face of abhorrent & brutal humanity;
  • we are to each celebrate our unique gifts & talents while blending them into the Body of Christ for mutual benefit

Navigating contrasts for spiritual growth requires us to pay attention to the Holy Spirit & remain steady in our commitment to genuinely love 🙂

Hurray for Practice!

My family made the Thanksgiving meal yesterday & it was a smashing success! I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to acknowledge years of practice that have finally culminated in success – YAHOOOO!! In any given year in the past, I was practicing on how to cook a turkey that wasn’t dry or under-done. I was also practicing a few other dishes to make them not only edible but also tasty! And this year, I’m celebrating success!!!

We all want to be successful, but we don’t often celebrate the practice required to be successful – so let’s take a moment to applaud attempts & failures more than victories 🙂

Here are some things that help us to be successful:

Teamwork: yesterday, my whole family pitched in to make various parts of the meal & no one was unraveled by too much work!
Practice: keep trying!!
Testing: the guests that came to our meal were the testers. It helps immensely to have objective input on our journey to success

Avoiding Disaster

Cooking a turkey has the potential to be a dance with disaster. I know this to be true, based in years of practice & research. But this year is likely to be different, probably. I say this because of not only years of practice & failures but also because of preparation. 
I’m learning that I can avoid lots of disasters with a little bit of preparation. For example, Gideon in the book of Judges, avoided various disasters because he walked a path of preparation with God. Seems to me that God primed Gideon for his massive victory over the Midianites through extensive preparation: angel visitation, tearing down an altar to idolatry, fleece adventures, people screening & even eavesdropping. 

I may not always enjoy the preparation process but I certainly like the outcomes better than the results of poor preparation. Let’s be careful not to belittle the process of preparation 🙂

you need these casualties

Over the weekend, I tried to make chili (a good Autumn meal) & it was entirely a catastrophe: the beans didn’t cook, the meat was yucky, it was flavorless & even my kids were warning each other about eating what they perceived to be the borderline poison and life-threatening chili.  I tried to fix it with more spices and seasoning, which only made it even worse – so salty that it could be a formaldahyde substitute.  To which my strategy was to add potatoes & hopefully soak up the overkill salt.

Hmmmmmmmm – obviously, it’s easy to overdo something good.

In relation to God, let’s have our eyes wide open that too much God will create some important casaulties.  Too much God in your life will ruin deception, insecurity, depression, pride and many other things that need to be wrecked 🙂

waffles for breakfast

I like Saturday mornings for lots of reasons, one of which is getting to “enjoy” my kids’ cooking efforts, kind of and sometimes.  Presently, we have some company staying with us & one of my kids mentioned that he makes some really killer waffles.  Our friend staying with us really likes crispy waffles and voila, a plan was “cooked up.”  The execution of the plan this morning was “sketchy”.  Let’s just say that we almost ruined the waffle iron, the kitchen now needs some deep cleaning attention and there were some nice overtones of cinnamon and nutmeg.  Thankfully our friend who is staying with us slept in and we’ve already organized a Plan B:  no waffles, but crepes area nice alternative.

When life hands you lemons, being thankful can be the sugar you need to make lemonade ,)

Pecan Pie

I make a pretty killer pecan pie & no, it’s not healthy, nor glutton free, not fat free & it has very little nutritional value. If a person eats my pecan pie, it’s strictly for the flavor, full stop 🙂
The reason my pecan pie is so good is that I’ve made all the mistakes I can think of, learning how to make it the best I know. I’ve botched the crust, I’ve forgotten to add sugar, I’ve messed up the filling, I’ve accidentally mixed up the sugar & salt quantities, along with a host of other mistakes. But after numerous failures, I can now make a pecan pie almost with my eyes closed that might be good enough for commercial sale. Mistakes go with the process that creates excellence. Don’t quit with your mistakes & don’t give up in the process 🙂

cooking turkey

With Thanksgiving  popping up in less than 48 hours, I am facing my age-old nemesis, the turkey.  I think that I’ve figured out almost every way to ruin a turkey (undercooking, overcooking, offering a burnt sacrifice, along with many other accidents).  So I’m totally keen to throw in a lasagna & call it good 🙂

But alas, I will do the traditional turkey & there’s a good chance that I’ll get it right this year – hope springs eternal.  And this is exactly my point:  hope springs eternal.  Just because I’ve had a litany of turkey traumas doesn’t mean that this year is going to be another “challenge.”  After a 1,000 failed attempts with his light bulb invention, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Happy Turkey Day! 🙂

balance

One of my children made breakfast yesterday & decided to try their hand at omelettes.  This child likes garlic & so they decided to really “pour” it on & you can project for yourself the outcome of the garlic omelette experiment.  More than 24 hours later, they still have garlic pouring out of their pores, even after a few hours of swimming yesterday afternoon.  While I like garlic, along with lots of other spices, our omelette experiment has reminded me of the importance of balance.

We all have things that we REALLY  enjoy (parties, snowboarding, traveling, conversations, friendship, workingout, eating, cooking, etc).  But let’s remember that the possiblity always exists that we can overdose on a good thing 🙂

The onion solution

The other day I was making a casserole & needed an opinion, but alas, we had run out of onions & my neighbor didn’t have any at the time. So, like all creative minds, I tried to get innovative in my onion replacement efforts 🙂
The end of this story is that my casserole turned out pretty well, even if I didn’t have the perfect onion solution. With that being said, there are some ingredients in cooking & especially in life for which there is no substitute, like Jesus 🙂
No matter how you configure life & regardless of the various ingredients in your life, there’s no substitute for Jesus. He simply cannot be replaced.

Christmas plans & cooking

 We are coming to the close of the  Christmas  season & it seems to me that we all do Christmas in our own unique ways – which is cause to celebrate!  Thankfully, I changed a few of my normal habits so that this year has less stress than preceding years (normally, I procrastinate package wrapping because this is the one task I totally HATE, for various reasons).  Anyways, this year we had a wrapping party, so that atrocity has been overcome ,)

I’m now putting my brain into the cooking mode, since today & tomorrow will be filled w food prep.  Here are some things that we’ll be cooking (my daughter is helping me):

  • breakfast:  2 savory bread puddings (spinach / artichoke and ham, cheese & sun dried tomatoes) – I think these hold great promise ,)
  • meats:  turkey & ham
  • veggies:  sweet potato casserole ala’ Isabell & green beans
  • salads:  green salad & my mom’s infamous black cherry jello
  • chorizo stuffing (my husband’s favorite)
  • desserts:  pecan pie & peach cobbler

So what do you cook & how do you celebrate Christmas???

We are having lots of people over, but the whole point of all of this cooking, preparation, celebration, et. al, is 100% due to Jesus’ birth – indeed, the most noble of all events to celebrate.  Merry Christmas!!

my gracious family

  No seriously, you’ve gotta read this one 🙂  I recently had a cooking fiasco & I want to brag on my family.  Lately, I’ve been trying to get more fish into our diet as a means for low fat protein consumption.  The honest truth is that I can’t cook fish to save my life, but that doesn’t stop me from trying – hence the fiasco.  So here’s how it went down:  I went to the fish part of the store & was looking for the cheapest & freshest fish they had, which was flounder.  Flounder is a really weird looking fish – it’s skinny and flat with the eyes on the top of its body.  Because it’s so skinny, its hard for a fish monger to de-bone (which I discovered after their kind attempt to honor my de-boned request).  So I bring home these thin strips of fish & try to cook them – it was AWFUL!!!!  But here’s the beauty of this disaster, my family ate the fish with absolutely NO COMPLAINING!  No one said a word – we all suffered in silence 🙂  I will not be cooking flounder again, unless Jesus visits our home personally & has a nice chat with all of our family on this topic.

So here’s a thought for your consideration & application:  my family was EXTREMELY gracious with me, I think mostly because they love me.  Perhaps a really effective way to express love is to refrain from complaining or pointing out failures and weakspots when they are so glaringly obvious.  Being gracious is a really inexpensive way to be loving 🙂

God is always cooking :)

I like to cook, mostly for the humor of the experience & sometimes for the social element.  Recently, RT Kendall came & spoke at our church.  The preceding day, he came to our house & we made chili – his special recipe & my green chili.  Now all of the chilis turned out great & taste wonderful.  The truly great thing, however, was the amount that we made so i could freeze it & use it on a busy day.  Lately, i’ve been doing alot of my cooking for the week on Saturdays – mousaka (greek lamb casserole), stuffed peppers, chicken tikka masala (indian), cinnamon rolls, lasagna, marinated flank steak, etc.  Doing this on Saturdays helps a whole bunch because then during the busy-ness of the week, i’ve already got dinner made.

Here’s the God component:  i think that sometimes we treat God like the weekend meal deal.  We go to church, get a meal & think that this “banquet” will last for the week.  In reality, God is always cooking something for you – everyday.  When i was growing up, we used to sing this song, “Come & Dine for the Master Calleth”.  God always has a rich table spread & available for us to feast on His presence & Word.  Don’t be spiritually anorexic – come & dine w God everyday.  He’s got something good cookin for you!!

recipes

ok, some facebook friends said they were interested in a few recipes, so here’s an attempt, with the forewarning that i’m not such a whippy cook & i already know this so be nice w any comments ;).  With that premise, pls feel free to add your own fav recipe in a comment for our enjoyment  🙂

monte cristo: tweaked from rachel ray (this is fun w the kids)

ingredients:  ham, turkey, salami, swiss, porous sandwich bread, eggs, milk, butter & jam [quantities based on sandwich(es) per person]

cooking:  pre-heat oven to 350 & heat a large skillet & melt butter in it;  mix eggs & milk together in a large (wide bowl) & dip bread in to soak, both sides.  you’re making french toast.  put saturated bread into heated skillet & flip when toasted.  do this to all of your bread, then put jam on 1 side of the french toast, then load w turkey, ham, salami & swiss.  slap on the top piece of french toast & bake in the oven for about 10min to melt chese. voilah – monte cristos.  i’ve tried to make the sandwiches at the same time as making the french toast, but i never got the inside of the sandwich cooked all the way through w/out putting them in the over.  any suggestions?

posole’ (mexican stew): serves 2-4 as a full meal

ingredients:  4 pork chops (boneless is the easiest), 1 tspn canola oil a large can of hominy, regular can of tomatoes, small can of diced green chilis, 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic, teaspoon each of cumin & oregano, salt & pepper to taste.  add jalepeno for some kick

cooking:  in a dutch oven or large skillet brown pork chops in canola oil & season, set aside;  brown onions & garlic in the skillet then add hominy, tomatoes, green chilis, cumin, oregano & salt & pepper (and jalepenos).  chop up pork chops & add to the skillet. simmer.  the longer it simmers, the deeper / better the flavor.  if you try to freeze this, the hominy gets mushy.

Enjoy!

a day

I like Saturdays because they are often good fam times.  This morning, everyone kind of slept in, praise Jesus.  We had a low key breakfast for the kids because they just wanted cereal – yea!  For me, I made chiliqueles (its like nachos w fried eggs) – absolutely one of my TOTAL favorites & it was fantastic!!  The kids chilled out in their rooms & I started a study on forgiveness – there are like 3 different words (sin, transgression, debt) that Jesus discusses the need for forgiveness.  I’m interested to see where this goes. 

I also got to work out for the 1st time in like 2 weeks, came home, watched man vs wild w the fam & I’m now planning to go make dinner for our fam & the Picones.  The dinner will be:  ribeyes, salad, grilled veggies & homemade pumpkin pie & homemade butterscotch pie – yum!!  So that’s it!  Come on over, we’ll have fun! 😉

problems w jalepenos

I love spicey food.  I like my pho hot, I like my mexican food spicey, I like to put la-jiao on my lo mein.  I like my Ethiopian food hot – I just like hot food! 

There is, however, a draw back that keeps coming back to bite me _ almost literally.  Whenever I cut or break apart jalepenos (for whatever purpose), the spiciness gets on my fingers & then anything my fingers touch.  Don’t even think of rubbing your eyes or picking your nose.  Which brings me to the reason for this blog.  I saw a recipe in this week’s food section in the newspaper for mexican brisket.  The recipe includes chopped up jalepeno & since I made this about 30min ago, I’m having some bad issues – my lips are burning & even though I didn’t pick my nose, somehow, my nose is burning.  I already reminded myself before the chopping about the dangers of jalepeno infestation, so I can’t figure out why I’m having this problem now. 

I can’t bring myself to use rubber gloves in my kitchen – I’m not a professional chef nor is my kitchen a restaurant.  Benji is sitting here telling me to make jalepeno cake for me.  :/  Any suggestions?  I’ve even thought of trying to snort milk, but I can’t bring myself to do this yet.  Advice anyone? 

Beuler?

a few of my favorite things

well, its been an interesting week.  Here are a few of my favorite things that have happened this week:

  • successfully made a coconut cream pie & a delic peach pie for Benji’s bday
  • had family over for Benji’s bday & served one of the best dinners I’ve made (nothing burned, everything tasting good, & excellent company, easy to enjoy!)
  • picked up the kid’s ski gear – yahoo!!!  rentals for the season for each of them for $50!!!
  • got Benji’s ski pass – 5 mountains for FREEEEEEEEE & he survived his 5 yr old check up at the Dr (3 shots)
  • walking home w David & Bell from school each day – I get to hear about their day, friends, etc
  • friends

Routines are good things – they can bring sanity & order from a chaotic summer.  🙂

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KdqC-4UxTw&feature=related]

more cooking!

Ok, Reece said he didn’t want to go out for anything fancy for his bday, nor did he want a high fat dessert that would lie around the house to tempt him – so I felt a little constricted for his bday dinner.  Thanks to Jesus, it all came out GREAT!!!!  We had marinated flank steak, grilled veggies (very tastey), grilled artichokes, salad & grilled peaches w balsamic vinegar.  Especially for me, I have to say that I was a) relieved & b) impressed!!! 

It was a throw down, that wasn’t too expensive, was REALLY tastey & nothing was burned or under-cooked & it was all on time!  This folks, is evidence of God moving in my life w positive results.  I’d like to see Him increase His territory in my life – moving from “my” life to “this” life.

cooking again

Well, I’m back in the cooking groove & so far, its all been good – even my baked chicken last night turned out to be quite tastey!  So far, I made a beef roast that was good, asparagus, mushrooms, baked chix & this morn I made a big pot of posole (mexican stew).  I’m relieved that its all been good so far – even to the point of possibly branching out & trying to make my grandmas fried pies (TOTALLY PHENOMENAL, when she made them!).  Anyways, I’m encouraged w my efforts – maybe I should go to Ethiopia more often!

Any suggestions what I should try next?  😉

food for body (tres leches & coconut cream) & soul

Ok, my good friend Jolene has her bday tomorrow & her kind husband let me know that she really likes our tres leches cake – so we made one today.  If you’ve never had a tres leches cake, it would bring me great joy to let you experience the joy w our family sometime.  This is reece’s fav cake (maybe tied w moist carrot cake), so he always gets jittery when I make it because of his inclination to consume large portions in vaccuum style.  😉  Needless to say, I like to cook this cake bc its hard to ruin.

My next cooking endeavor will be in tv taping tomorrow w a coconut cream pie.  If you were around on the Wed nite when I finished the beatitudes series, you’ll recall the entertaining coconut cream pie fiasco – it was a step up from my attempt to “toast” whipped cream under the broiler.  Enough on that one.  (personally, i think cooking should include some comic relief – mine usually does!) 

As for the soul food – here’s my wisdom for the nite:  visit my buddy’s blog: kevlarbeard.  He has a list of suggestions that are really powerful!!!!

today is my mom’s bday

Happy BDay to mom!  I’m kind of excited for my mom’s bday because aside from doing all of the regular bday routine, I’ve got a surprise for her that she doesn’t know about.  🙂

Here’s my plan.  My mom always talks about how her mom made these great parkerhouse rolls & delicious buttermilk biscuits and she’s totally right.  My gram could throw down a GREAT meal – fried chix, greens, pies of any variety, mashed potatoes & mouthwatering gravy, fried okra . . . . .   Holy cow, she was an incredible cook!!  Anyways, I found the recipe box from my gram & in it, I found her recipe for buttermilk biscuits that I’m going to make for mom tonight as a surprise – pls don’t talk with her about this until tomorrow.  Help me keep this a surprise.

Furthermore, please protect the fragile nature of my cooking ability.  They could turn out awful.  In that event, I won’t have to serve them & there won’t be any disappointment.  Or I can get my kids to help me, so if they turn out bad, I can say it was a family experiment – there are lots of ways to skin a cat.  🙂

Anyways, wish me luck & maybe even shoot up a quick prayer for divine intervention and grace.